back to article Cambridge University dials up VoIP

BT and Cisco have landed a deal to provide VoIP connectivity to Cambridge University users, replacing their current telephone system which provides communications across 200 locations. The move is motivated by the usual cost-reduction of using standard IP kit, though the university angle allows everyone involved to talk about …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Value for money ??

    As anyone who has looked into VoIP systems will know, Cisco's VoIP system has the added attraction of being the most expensive on the market. (Although I suspect that Cambridge Uni. are going to be getting one heck of a discount off list...)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    First time the students get real world business experience...

    They will be sat there, chatting away. Everything will go dead and then BT will blame everyone else possible taking months to admit it is actually their fault. Then it will fail again a week later and will the story will repeat itself over and over.

  3. Chris

    Why is this news?

    My University has had a Cisco IP telephony system in place and fully working for at least a year now. This was also a multi-site project linking the main campus with the local teaching hospital and other off-site campuses totalling several thousand users.

    I don't see why el reg deem this worthy news or is it just a bit of Oxbridge propaganda?

  4. eddiewrenn

    static on the line

    We've had a Cisco IP-based system for four months at our media-based organisation and it's been absolutely awful - connections dropped, lines not working, static/echo on the line.

    I was really excited to see the system come in, but was left more than slightly disappointed.

    To cut the story short, we've gone back to BT!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    And your University, presumably, also has ~20,000 VoIP users/extensions?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I'm suprised

    I always thought they would go for their own mobile phone mast set-up, the savings on cabling, would be immense and it would beat wifi for wireless communications across the whole of Cambridge/The University.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    That will be fun

    It should make all the enquires from the children of Chinas elite even more incomprehensible.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    especially as it seems they previously awarded the contract to a small uk systems manufacturer just last year...

    Wonder what went wrong, or if the uni was suitably incentivised!

  9. b shubin

    Not ready for prime time

    so, they decided to get the most expensive system, from a vendor known for half-baked proprietary shite in their "innovation" products?

    what could go wrong?

    my former employer implemented Cisco VoIP in their call center (thankfully after i left), and in several warehouse locations.

    the call center is dying because the system is flaky and Cisco support is unresponsive (so my source tells me); it is worse in the warehouses. the organization opens one ticket a day, on average. they stay open indefinitely.

    lessee...crap product, proprietary architecture, indifferent support, ruinous prices...

    yep, that's the Cisco i've known for a looong time.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so Interesting..

    > Wonder what went wrong, or if the uni was suitably incentivised!

    The air of conspiracy is wonderful. If only you read press releases more carefully.

    "We are replacing the whole of our voice network and we consider the Voice Processing System as a key strategic component"

    Maximiser appears to be a voicemail system - so basically a fancy answering machine. Hardly a new VOIP system.

  11. peter
    Jobs Halo

    Cheap Calls

    I thought the point of VoIP was to bypass BT and the costs involved with calling. What is the deal here?

  12. Senor Beavis

    Better than the incumbent

    I may be out-of-date with my information, but some colleges, if the not entire university, used to have a blanket deal with NTL (now Virgin Media). Every student room in college-owned accommodation (on and off campus) had a direct dial in addition to their university-supplied 100Mb network connection. All I guess has happened is that the cost of continuing with analogue phone lines has been undercut by Cisco VOIP kit. All the geeks who are bothered about VOIP will already be Skype'ing each other over the ample network bandwidth. Everyone else won't give two stuffs about the Cisco kit.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >Maximiser appears to be a voicemail system - so basically a fancy answering >machine. Hardly a new VOIP system.

    The Maximiser is a full VoIP enabled PBX.

    You'd think that if you had spent time integrating a such a system with your legacy switch as a voicemail and 'mobility' solution (presumably using it to bridge VoIP calls) and were happy with the platform, it would be an ideal candidate to replace the legacy switch when the time came.

    Perhaps it was only ever intended as a stop-gap while they roll out something else.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    wheres the real draw?

    i've been pondering this. if you already have a copper infrastructure which you

    own...then why VoIP to end users? the handsets are more costly...and a lot

    of the features can be done with classic kit. the MAIN benefit I can see is if

    you call site to site with voip to cut out the charges from the carrier. in this case

    you simply VoIP up your exchange - add in the required 128 channels or so of voip and package it all in nicely - using your IP infrastructure to deliver it

    to the other site. end users? upgrading switches to PoE etc and installing UPS

    kit to keep the phones alive etc. costly. soft-phones? well, its an option ...

  15. Dave

    Press Releases

    They probably got a mention because someone stuck out a press release.

    I recently swapped out my old analogue home PBX for state-of-the-art Asterisk VoIP system based on Cisco kit (OK, Linksys/Sipura) with a whole two extensions but provision to add several more. Do I get a mention?

    (no I don't need it, it's just fun to play with)

  16. Peter Jones

    VoIP at Cambridge

    I hope it works better than my VoIP here at Oxford. Poor call quality is the norm.

  17. Andrew Torrance
    Thumb Up

    @Senor Beavis

    It can't be much worse than the old (NTL) system from a student point of view. From my experience there a few years ago, NTL routinely forgot to connect/bill/disconnect, and their customer service was as one would expect. In 2005 (just after I left) the DDIs in students' rooms were replaced with a single incoming 0845 number and (I believe) calling cards. This meant NTL didn't have to remember to bill, and trousered extra money every time someone called in!

    Agree with the comments re: skype, although such P2P services are technically banned by the university, or rather JANET, on the grounds that they only get cheap bandwidth because they're benefitting educational users, and the P2P packets contain everyone else's data too. Computers with direct 100MBit connections have a tendency to become supernodes :-)

  18. Anonymous Coward

    @Peter Jones

    "Poor call quality is the norm."

    Ah, so it's in keeping with the rest of the university then?

  19. Dave

    RE: Halls of residence phone systems

    At the university of Salford, we still have a 'keycom' phone system, which is a pre pay system by which you dial a 5 digit number, dial your id, dial your pin (so far about 30 digits, then if you're lucky you can dial the number of the person you want to talk to.

    Apart from being *really* expensive - more than pre-pay mobile phones, the incoming number was at national rate - so it was expensive for anyone to call you back!

    The ONLY use they have is that internal calls are free - although it is a different network to the campus academic one so you cant call the office/tutor/etc.

    Our internet connection is limited to 1meg each - piss poor really, i am moving off campus next year and for LESS money i will have a rather nice house, decent mates, and 20meg cable or 24 meg Be* - all in it does actually cost less, even after bills.

    *i have Be* now and service has been rock solid at 18meg for the last 6 months at £22 for the pro version with free static IP and properly unlimited data (i have shifted over 200gig of ISOs and so on in one week before now) this is nothing short of a bargain.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Cisco not as expensive as the reseller mark up

    I have read through these comments and while I agree with some of this, most of the problems implementing Cisco or any IPT is with other vendors network hardware. Either that or i would suggest that the companies installing the products are the problem. IPT always gets bad press but this is normally a lack of understanding amongst already over worked IT managers considering a greater burden of workload and a bad choice of partner to implement. As to the costs, this is nonsense too. This is more likely down to a bad choice of partner to deploy. Yes I do sell Cisco and other vendors kit too and I see very little cost difference and certainly i can not say any one vendor has the solution working perfectly.

    However, Cisco make good products as a rule of thumb and we are always going to have this success bashing. We hate anyone too successful.

    I do feel sorry for the little chaps that lost the mantle to BT but maybe they never had the skills to pay the bills.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Another University

    We're currently researching VOIP at our University. I'm looking at it from a networking point of view whilist Telecoms are, not surprisingly, looking at it from theirs. They are keen because VOIP is the future, or present, depending on how you look at it. Exchanges of this sort of size, 20,000 users, don't get changed very often. About every 10 ten years. If, when our current system starts looking old (in about 5 years) we go with another standard exchange then we'll be stuck with it until about 2025. By then we'll be a long way behind in terms of technology. I expect that that is a factor in Cambridge's decision too.

    Cisco VOIP on Cisco switches does make sense - there are useful, proprietory, hooks which make life easier for the administrator.

    From experience, sometimes the extra outlay initially for homologous networks pays off in the long run. Universities don't have large teams of people so administration has to be easy, which really translates to 'consistent'.

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